Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Last Weekend

Last Saturday marked one year since we said goodbye to my dad.
I think about him and miss him every single day.
I especially miss him when Hannah says something funny or Finn does something cute…I wish he was here to see this.

Saturday Hannah and I ran to the grocery store and on the way home we got behind a pack of cyclists so we took a slightly different route.  In a full British accent, Hannah said, “I’ve not been here before,” with the been pronounced like bean. 
I want to call him up and tell him just what she said.  I can still hear his laugh.

When we were home at Christmas, I came across this picture and frame in my parents’ house from the day we brought Hannah home from the hospital. 
It’s exactly how I want to remember my dad.

IMG_3526

Hannah’s teacher has a little stuffed dog named Hamish who lives in a metal suitcase on her desk at school. Each Friday, a child gets to bring Hamish home for the weekend and on Monday they get to tell the class all about what they did with him.
Last weekend was Hannah’s turn.  We snapped some pictures to email to her teacher and on Sunday night, Hannah wrote up a little recap of Hamish’s weekend.  She noted that Hamish ate some cheese (spelled cheez) and went to the cinema (spelled sinema). 

IMG_3537

As far as the rest of the weekend it was a pretty nice one.
Saturday I had a much needed girls night out with my friends here in Luxembourg.

Hannah’s French teacher was at the girls night out (she’s a good friend of my friend who organized the GNO) and it was the first time I’ve ever heard her speak English.  Have you ever been out at a posh place, dressed up in something other than your normal mom uniform of yoga pants and a long sleeved t-shirt and everyone is speaking different languages and drinking out of very fancy glasses and you’re feeling like I CAN TOTALLY HANG WITH THIS CROWD?  Like, I’ve got this international thing down?
This was not one of those times. 
Because as Hannah’s French teacher was leaving she said au revoir to me and leaned in to faire la bise, or cheek kiss, as you do in Europe.
(I should tell you that faire la bise is really awkward for me.  Is the other person going to do one kiss, two, or three?  And should I just press my cheek to theirs and make a kiss sound, or should I actually kiss their cheek? I never know.)
I’m not sure what happened next, but somehow instead of faire la bise, my nose bumped Hannah’s French teacher’s cheek and I ended up kissing her nose.

Clearly, I am very chic.  And so very American.

Shawn and the kids stayed home and from the looks of the house when I returned, they had a smashing time.  Shawn sent me this picture while I was out.

IMG_3538

Sunday morning Shawn and Hannah went to church and I stayed home with Finley because when he woke up, both of his eyes were pink, goopy, and slightly crusty.  I suspected pink eye and a trip to the doctor first thing Monday morning confirmed it. 
“Eets not serious,” she told me.  “Just a beet of zee conjunctivitis.”
She wrote me a prescription for some eye drops and even though it was cold, the sun was out so Finn and I walked about 1/2 mile to the pharmacy.  There’s a wonderful English speaking chemist (that’s what they call pharmacists here) near the pediatrician’s office and even though I’ve gotten sorta competent in speaking to her in French, she always gives me instructions in English as well.
She wrote on the box: 1 goutte 3 fois/jour pendant 7 jours.
I told her that I understood and then she held up one finger and said, “One drop in every eye.”
I probably don’t have to tell you how much that tickled me. 
I can only hope that native French speakers find my mistakes just as adorable.

(Especially Hannah’s French teacher.)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Ten Months

Finley is ten months old!

So, what’s he up to these days?
His eighth tooth just popped through this week.  He’s got four on top and four on bottom.
He’s eating just about everything.  He had his first grilled cheese sandwich, cut into slices, and he held on to those pieces like someone was going to take them from him.

IMG_3511

He’s still nursing 4-5 times per day and eats solids for lunch and dinner. 
Finley’s back to sleeping well again – it took us about 6 nights to get back on schedule after we returned to Luxembourg from the US for Christmas.  Jet lag is no joke, people.
He’s been going to bed around 7:30 and waking around 7 in the morning.  He takes a morning nap and an afternoon nap, and he typically sleeps well for at least one nap each day.  Sometimes the other nap is a bust.  But we can’t complain because he sleeps like a log during the night.

IMG_3510

He’s army crawling all over and has crawled up on all fours a few times, although ever so tentatively. 
(Hannah started crawling at 10 months also.)

He loves to stand and play with his toys on the coffee table.

DSC_0383a
He also manages to get himself stuck under it.  Every single day.

DSC_0389a

Because of his recent mobility, I’ve set up the pack-n-play so that he can play there while I do my workouts in the living room.  Then I take it into the kitchen when I make dinner.  He seems to like it.

DSC_0391a

Shawn thinks that it’s kind of hillbilly to come home to a baby in a pack-n-play in the kitchen.  Especially when the baby is only wearing a diaper.
(Not that that’s ever happened or anything.)

DSC_0398a

And speaking of diapers, changing them is still a circus act because he rolls and wiggles and scoots away every time.   He’s got stuff to do, I guess.

DSC_0397a

Finley’s still easy going, smiles all the time and is in desperate need of a haircut.  But I just can’t because he has a few little curls and the way his hair looks after he’s had a hat on cracks me up.

He waves bye-bye, loves to play peek-a-boo, cracks up when anyone sneezes and loves when we make a big fuss when he does something new.
He also adores his big sister.  I think his favorite part of the day (besides eating) is when Hannah runs out of school and gives him a hug. 

A couple of times, we’ve heard him say what sounds like “uh oh.”  He also says “dada” and “mama.”

The biggest thing he did in the last month was travel from Luxembourg to the US for his first Christmas and New Year’s.  He did great, although the first two hours on the flight back were tiring because he was so wiggly and just wanted to touch everything.  Once he fell asleep, he slept until we landed.
  IMG_3465

New Year’s Eve with my good friend and one of his favorite ladies.

Happy ten months, Finn Man. 
It’s hard to believe that in a few short months we’ll be celebrating your first birthday.
We love you so much!

Monday, January 6, 2014

2013: C’est Fini. Welcome 2014.

I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t just a little bit glad that 2013 is over. 
It was a year of high highs and low lows. 
Trials and blessings.
And yes, we put another (successful!) notch on our expat belts and grew our family by one sweet boy, but we also felt sorrow and grief like never before.

Looking back, here are some of the highlights.  While some of these aren’t happy times, I refuse – REFUSE – to let the hardships and sadness overshadow all the good.  I made up my mind early on that I wasn’t going to wallow or carry on in ways that are beyond reasonable because ya know what?  Every bit of this is part of our story.  And I have full faith in the One who’s doing the writing.

In the early morning of January 25, we circled around my dad as he took his last breath.

428367_4838312269092_344212143_n[1]
51 days later, we welcomed our sweet baby boy into our family.  Finley was born after 4 short hours of labor, weighing 9 pounds and 4 ounces.  Even now, 9 months later sometimes I still can’t believe that I had such a big baby.   

IMG_1880

I think this may be my absolute favorite picture of 2013. 

IMG_3452

My first Mother’s Day as a mom of two.

mothersday

In May we said goodbye to two more family members.

Akron_Child_Photographer

Finley made his first trip to the US and got to meet my grandma for the first time.

IMG_2380

After a couple of weeks and a few scary doctor appointments, Hannah continued to fully recover from an illness. 

IMG_2692

In August, we went on the vacation of a lifetime, renting an RV and driving around Europe.  You can read about all of the adventure here.
THIS, however, will probably be one of my favorite travel memories ever.

IMG_2860

Shawn and I celebrated 13 years of marriage.

IMG_2998

Hannah started Kindergarten. (It’s called Year 1 at the British school.)

DSC_0102

We were devastated to lose my grandma in October, just three days after her birthday.  I traveled alone with both kids to the US to be there for her funeral.

IMG_3142

Hannah turned 6!

1378568_10201623677567161_1498764319_n[2]

After my grandma’s funeral, my mom came back to Luxembourg with us.

DSC_0228

We celebrated our third Thanksgiving in Luxembourg.

DSC_0023

And finally, for the third time this year, we traveled to the US, this time for Christmas.  It was Finley’s first and it felt so good to be home.  We remembered and laughed with so many dear friends.  I’m so thankful for friendships, and especially for the friends who love me for who I am and talk me out of my crazy.  They are calm for my soul and I miss them.

DSC_0360a


We’re back in Luxembourg now – we just arrived home this morning.   The part where we say goodbye to our family at the airport and when they stand outside of security, waving until we can no longer see them, well, that doesn’t get any easier - no matter how many times we’ve done it before.

Our travels were smooth and uneventful and then we discovered that somewhere between Atlanta and Paris the airline lost Finley’s car seat and stroller.  There’s nothing like being 10 minutes from home sweet home after a 14 hour trip and then you can’t actually get home because the airline lost your baby’s car seat. 

So, goodbye 2013.  You were great in so many ways.
But I’m looking forward to a better 2014.